Have You Ever Seen an Oarfish?

oarfishHumankind has resided on Earth for thousands of years. Though before the 18th century, scientific progress had a rather slow pace, starting from the 20th century, however, humanity quickly and dramatically increased the amounts and quality of knowledge about the planet we live on. Discoveries made about Earth show that it is still full of wonders, despite constant and persistent research conducted by scientists. One of the biggest mysteries today are oceans. According to some data, 95% of oceanic depths are still unexplored (LiveScience). This means that there are an unimaginable number of wonders awaiting to be discovered.

A perfect illustration of this thesis is represented by weird creatures regularly being found or filmed in the oceans across the entire planet. For an example, one needs to look no further than giant squids, fish-devils, enormous mantas, and other unique species that most likely had served ancient sailors as sources of inspiration for their legends about deep sea monsters. One of such creatures is the oarfish, which could be a prototype for famothat are us sea serpents; one of the largest of its representatives was found in October, 2013 on the Southern California coast, USA (CNN).

An oarfish is a gigantic and extremely elongated sea creature; its length can reach about 17 meters long. Presumably, they have earned their name due to their length and a slightly compressed body shape. However, its Latin (and scientific) name, which sounds like Regalicidae, is translated as “royal” which makes this species a “king” of other fish. Anyways, it does not mean that all the exemplars of the oarfish are that long; in most cases, their length varies between 2-4 meters (New World Encyclopedia). Oarfish usually inhabit the tropics, though they also can be seen in other regions of the world ocean.

Except its length, oarfish have other curious characteristics. For example, despite of its size, oarfish possesses a surprisingly small mouth with no visible teeth in it. The oarfish does not have any scales as well. Its color is mostly bluish, which is caused by small crystals of guanine deposited in the upper layers of its skin. Their flanks and undersides may be different in color, but in the majority of cases they are also blue and black (New World Encyclopedia).

Though in the older times oarfish could most likely inspire sailors to have stories about gigantic sea serpents, dangerous and carnivorous, oarfish are known to feed entirely on plankton. It eats small fish, crustaceans, krill, and other smaller prey, which they strain from the water with their grill rakers. However, there were documented cases when oarfish ate cnedarian medusa and little squids. It is interesting to know that when oarfish feed, they usually turn their bodies into a vertical position.

An oarfish is a unique and fascinating creature. Despite its size and feeding requirements, it does not possess a danger to humans; besides, it inhabits deep waters of tropic areas, though sometimes it can be seen elsewhere. Its longest exemplar was known to reach 17 meters long; in October, 2013, one that spanned six meters was found in Southern California. Oarfish are a perfect example of the thesis that we still know little about our planet, especially about our oceans.


Wang, Kevin. “18-foot Oarfish Discovered off Southern California Coast.” CNN. Cable News Network, 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

“Mysteries of the Oceans Remain Vast and Deep.” LiveScience.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. <http://www.livescience.com/14493-ocean-exploration-deep-sea-diving.html>.

“Oarfish.” New World Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Oarfish>.


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